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TLDR version - Great mechanicals, software is clearly beta

I have always been interested in the Infiniti G sedan ever since the JDM Skyline was brought over and won MotorTrend's CoTY award in 2003. Alas, work and school and general lack of funds because of things in life made so it was never meant to be. The Skyline was upgraded and redesigned and the G35 became the G37, and I again wanted one. But once again life's trial sand tribulations meant I had to hold off. Which meant I had to continue driving my 2000 Toyota Camry, even though I hated it from day one because it was a boring appliance, and looked and drove like one.

When early spy shots started popping up couple of years ago of the fifth-gen, with the exterior looking just like the G37, but rumors that it would be all new. Then I saw heavily camouflaged versions where I could not make out the overall look and detailed design of the car. Then the car debuted at Detroit auto show, christened the Q50.

I had initially considered buying the BMW 3 series (E46 chassis) back in 2000, but stories and anecdotes about expensive repairs kept me away. Not that the Camry was ever trouble free - I have averaged at least one unscheduled and unplanned expensive repair job on the Camry every year I have owned it. When the Camry's odometer clicked over 190,000 miles, I turned to my wife and informed her that either December 31, 2013 or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first, I am getting a new car this year. And whatever it would be, it would be a fully loaded one, with all the tech toys and safety features available on that mode.

THe Infiniti name change, while a little weird at first, never really bothered me for anymore than 30 seconds, unlike professional auto journalists and teenaged form commenters living in their mom's basement who find a congenital need to bring up the name change every time Infiniti is mentioned.

Anyways, the car looked great in the debut, and thankfully the in-the-flesh pictures looked *much* better than the horrid official CGI pics that leaked. I still think the pics on the official Infiniti web site are horrid and do not really convey what the various colors look like. Unfortunately, the Corvette Stingray also debuted at Detroit, and like a Siren seducing the sailor, I was captivated by the C7. I seriously considered getting the Stingray for a period of three or four months, while I ignored my first love even as various news and promotions were announced by Infiniti, like the pre order program and the Apple gift card promotion. My wife, having better sense than I, finally convinced me that the Stingray is not the right car at this stage of my life. At 36, I am too young to have a midlife crisis. Perhaps the C8 in 10 years, when i do suffer from a midlife crisis.

So I started looking at sports sedans again. Four doors, sensible for when we start a family. First car driven was the M37S at Clearlake Infiniti. Too big. And hated the black and stone leather combo in the sport model. Plus the salesman there was a clueless idiot. Then test drove the Audi A6 at Momentum Audi. Wonderful interior, but again felt big and heavy. And out of my budget when I added in all the gadgets and doodads I wanted. Could have driven the A4, but felt it was getting long in the tooth and did not want an old model design, as the all new replacement is due next year. But the dealership experience was excellent. Salesman was very professional. Then went to Mercedes Houston Greenway to test drive the C class. Crap interior. My wife ruled it out. Then went to Momentum BMW to test drive the 3 series. Walk through the main door, and the desk ladies barely acknowledge us. Walked around the dealership checking out the various cars, and not a single salesman approached us to ask how they could help us, even though couple were farting around doing jack and $hit. Keep in mind, we had just been to Infiniti, Audi and Mercedes that same day, where we were greeted and attended to within 30 seconds of us entering the dealership. We were there for about half an hour, checking out cars, and no one ever approached us to say hello or to help. Wife and I figured if that is how we were treated before they had our money, I did not want to find out how they would treat us after they had our money. We walked out without a test drive and BMW off the list.

Do keep in mind, I buy my cars, rather than lease, and keep them for a longer time, so long term reliability is very important for me. From within my family (parents and siblings) I am the first to buy a luxury brand car. So buy any one brand was a carefully considered choice, one were the Germans were starting out at a disadvantage given they reputations (whether undeserved or not) or poor reliability outside the standard warranty period. This is also why I decided on buying the Q50, I wanted to get it before the rumors of Mercedes-sourced engines became a reality in the North American market. Give me that Nissan V6 engine and Japanese reliability.

Fortunately, my wife turned my attention back to the Infiniti just in time before the pre order program was set to end. I signed up for a no-obligation pre order. In the Houston area, there are four Infiniti dealers. The pre order program matched me with Southwest Infiniti. The salesman contacted me, and i enquired when the car would be available for test drive. I was told there are none available for test drive, but they were having a viewing party mid-June. I went and saw it in silver. My Camry was in silver, and I driven it for 13 boring years and so many thousands of miles. Silver was out, but the car looked great with the many sinewy curves on the hood, and on and around the headlights. I liked what I saw. I also got to sit inside and loved the interior. So did wifey, who generally has a very expert eye on these sort of things.

So the next day I put down a $500 refundable deposit on a Premium RWD Hagane Blue Wheat Interior, with deluxe and tech packages and 19" wheels. I told the salesman I did not want the spare tire package, but would not quibble too much that is how Infiniti sent them from the factory. I get a call my salesman about two days later that they found a car exactly matching what I wanted, with expected delivery mid to late July. So I tell them to go ahead and request the car be delivered to them for me to purchase.

A week passes by and no update from my salesman, so i swing by Southwest Infiniti to see what's going with my preorder. That is when the salesman shows me which car they have ordered for me. It is a RWD Premium in the exterior and interior colors I want, but it has the 17" bright finish wheels, as well as illuminated kick plates, ambient lighting, welcome lighting, and other stuff in about additional $3300 in accessories that I did not want, order nor need. I politely tell my salesman that this is not the car I want to buy and to kindly find another one that more closely meets my desired specs. This is done via email on June 21. I am met with radio silence. Keep in mind, I was willing to pay MSRP

So July 1, I contact Sewell Infiniti of North Houston to see of they can get me a car with the specs I am interested in getting. One without the frivolous (to me) lighting and ugly bright finish wheels. My sales lady gets back to me in two days, with an *exact* match of the car I want to buy. I tell them to go ahead and poach is from Mission Viejo Infiniti. I make a mental note that Southwest Infiniti salesman could have gotten me this same car, as it was already built and on its way to the US when I placed my order.

Then the first of the software update delays hit on July 4th weekend. My car arrived at the dealership middle of July. I test drove it for about two hours and 25 miles at the end of July. Then the second software update delay hit. I finally purchased the car and brought it home today.

So whats it like to drive? In a word - awesome. COming from 13 year old Toyota Camry, it is leaps and bounds ahead. I am still babying it during the 1200 mile break in period. But I can feel the power under my right foot, just wanting to be unleashed. The ergonomics and build quality are great. While the Q50 is very similar in size to my Camry, the Q50 feels much more smaller and intimate. Everything is much closer at hand, whether it is instrument controls, or the arm rests and switch gear. That contributes to the sense of immediacy. The engine is very quite in the Standard setting. Switching to Sport let the engine give off this sweet growl that i don't think I will get tired of hearing. The transmission shifts are buttery smooth. And the steer-by-wiresteering rack? Almost telepathic! I think it, and the car turns. My point of reference is of course the Camry, so it's a low bar the Q50 must clear, but I don't know any better, and am very happy with the steering.

Now for the negative. In a word, the Android-based software is clearly in beta. The system locked up on my drive home. There is clearly lots of lag in the interface. I use the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 at home, so I am used to buttery smooth and responsive UI for touch computing. The Q50's android-based OS is crap, pure and simple. I dearly hope this is a software optimization issue and not a weak CPU issue. Another negative - those Dunlop RFTs $uck. They are relatively quiet on side roads, but on highway speeds on the interstate they are load and very coarse sounding. Fortunately, that can be easily remedied by installing a set of MIchelins regular tires, which i plan to do once these RFTs were out in about a year.

Verdict - the Q50 is built on a solid foundation when it comes to the mechanical hardware (engine, transmission, steering, chassis, build quality), marred by $hitty software and runflat tires.

(if you made it this far, thanks for reading)





 

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Congrats!! It's a beauty. The write up is straight from your heart and makes me feel the excitement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
To add on, the Bose sound system is okay, not mind blowing. It certainly is a step up from what I had in the Camry (frankly anything modern would be), but the Q50 system is not awesome. I still have to play with the music settings, but with today's lock up, I did not get much time. I still have to set up other settings, like my garage door opener, that SOS registration, and system settings in the car.
 

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I have the same feeling about the Bose system in my G. The bass is muddy and mids are not clear enough compared to the HK system in my previous car.
 
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Thanks for the review. I'm in agreement with just about everything in your experience with the Q, positive and negative. Fantastic car in very way except for the state of the software running InTouch. At this point, I'd rate the software as beta, and ding Infiniti for rushing it out the door to make launch date. The overall driving experience helps to make up for that.

Agree about the Bose system. I'm using an iPod for listening to music, and trying to compensate for the system's muddiness with the EQ settings on the iPod itself. It helps, but at the end of the day, it's a Bose system. Infiniti needs to partner with a higher tier audio company.
 

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Great review! Enjoy the car and let's hope they get the bugs worked out on the in-touch system!
 

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Great review and story! Beautiful car btw!
 

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To add on, the Bose sound system is okay, not mind blowing. It certainly is a step up from what I had in the Camry (frankly anything modern would be), but the Q50 system is not awesome. I still have to play with the music settings, but with today's lock up, I did not get much time. I still have to set up other settings, like my garage door opener, that SOS registration, and system settings in the car.
Have to agree about the sound system, although I did find it was better with MP3s than listening to satellite radio.
 

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I guess the 50K question for you would be, knowing what you know now, would you still buy the Q50?, I was about to order mine yesterday and decide to wait until the computer issues are resolved. Infiniti, IMHO, will have to first acknowledge that they have a problem and provide a clear resolution plan asap to avoid further loss of consumer confidence on this otherwise great car. I tested the 328i, A4, C250 and I250, I found overall the Q50 the best value for your money and perhaps more fun to drive. It was a huge disappointment for me to learn about the intouch issues, I already had convinced the wife that we needed a Q50, I am not sure if she will change her mind in three months down road (hopefully by then this issue will be history)
Esteban
 

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Thanks for the review. I'm in agreement with just about everything in your experience with the Q, positive and negative. Fantastic car in very way except for the state of the software running InTouch. At this point, I'd rate the software as beta, and ding Infiniti for rushing it out the door to make launch date. The overall driving experience helps to make up for that.

Agree about the Bose system. I'm using an iPod for listening to music, and trying to compensate for the system's muddiness with the EQ settings on the iPod itself. It helps, but at the end of the day, it's a Bose system. Infiniti needs to partner with a higher tier audio company.
If your music is primarily on your iPod/iPhone (rather than streaming Pandora, MOG, etc.) there's a powerful 3rd party $4.99 EQ app by AudioForge that I'd recommend. It will transform your Q's audio system. It's straight EQ... no DSP or surround stuff. In addition to the standard Presets, you can of course sit in the car and tweak the EQ to taste, then save your own settings. I've had it for a few days in my current car and I can't stop listening to it.

Once it's optimized for the Q50 you can share the settings from within the app via Facebook or email.

Here's the manual: http://www.audioforge.ca/manual.php

To cure muddiness:

Set the head unit's Bass and Treble to full.

Add your songs to the app's library. Start a song playing.

Load the "Flat" preset in the app.

In the EQ screen, tap the left-most dot and slide it all the way up. That will punch up the bass. The app has auto leveling and anti-clipping so give it a second to attenuate. If the bass is too boomy and inprecise, do the "pinch" maneuver on the screen and it will tighten up the curve.

On the second dot (L to R) slide that up gently until you hear (and feel) the hit of the bass drum. You may need to slide that dot horizontally a bit to find the sweet spot.

That should cure a lack of punch and power. For a lack of clarity and presence, choose the dot to the far right and nudge it up until the sounds of the cymbals become prominent. Slide the dot to its left up a bit and stop when the sound becomes brassy or harsh.

Save that preset.

Since in a "dead" sounding system, the mids are okay, you may not need to touch them. If you do, make small corrections and keep the curve relatively smooth.

Finally, use the "Gain" control at the top of the EQ screen to add power to the system overall. Stop when you get a "red" signal on the little meter and back it off until it's a solid yellow. You should be very happy with your Q50's audio system, for however long it stays on ;)
 

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What kind of setting in the sound menu are you guys using on the Q50 Bose sound system?
For me, the best setting is to disable the Centerpoint surround and enable the Driver Stage, then adjust the treble and bass to your liking. Put in a good sound quality recording CD and crank the volume up to at least 85%. To me, the Bose in the Q50 sound pretty good.
 
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What kind of setting in the sound menu are you guys using on the Q50 Bose sound system?
For me, the best setting is to disable the Centerpoint surround and enable the Driver Stage, then adjust the treble and bass to your liking. Put in a good sound quality recording CD and crank the volume up to at least 85%. To me, the Bose in the Q50 sound pretty good.
How and where are these settings in the menu? Ilooked briefly but could not find the center point and driver stage settings. In the less than 24 hours I have had the car, I have not had the chance to tweak the settings.
 

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1. Touch​
<MENU>.
2. Touch [Settings].

3. Touch [Audio].

Try enable the Driver Audio Stage and disable the Centerpoint surround, you get better bass respond, staging and imaging on the driver seat. Also, disable the AudioPilot if you are driving and listening.
Try listen to a well recorded CD is the best way to judge how good a sound system.

How and where are these settings in the menu? Ilooked briefly but could not find the center point and driver stage settings. In the less than 24 hours I have had the car, I have not had the chance to tweak the settings.
 

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How and where are these settings in the menu? Ilooked briefly but could not find the center point and driver stage settings. In the less than 24 hours I have had the car, I have not had the chance to tweak the settings.
Main menu, settings, audio settings
 

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Well, my dealer allowed me to bring the car home overnight on an extended test drive, so I've had a chance to play with the audio settings. For whatever reason, the BT Audio connection sounds better (less bright and harsh) than the direct iPod connection. Overall I think the system sounds very good out of the box. Pandora sounded especially good, even at the 3G connection. The AudioForge EQ curve ended up looking exactly like a skating half pipe cross section. I had the Bose surround settings both on, that seemed to sound best.

As for the car, a loaded RWD Sport, I'm glad I took it overnight. It felt great on big smooth boulevards and on the interstate, but on the regular surface streets around my town the ride is too jittery and harsh. The run-flats and Sport suspension didn't help. That, and I never found an optimal seating position. I loved the interior, fit and finish, all the great gadgets and stuff. Performance is terrific. I liked the variable steering doo dads. I found the lane correction intrusive, like I was fighting the car a little. I guess I'm a crappy driver that needs a lot of assistance. Forward radar was cool, although it took me awhile to find the setting to turn it on. In the meantime I tried it out by near-rearending other cars in traffic. The top screen seems out of place, I think my wife's 08 Nissan Quest had that same display. The navi looks very dated for a new technology showcase like the Q50. On roads where the suspension stays settled the ride is very quiet and smooth and the car feels great. I think Infiniti shot themselves in the foot with the run flats. It's crazy to think about swapping tires on a brand new car.

Overall a great little sport sedan, but I'm afraid I'll be sticking with my soft old relic of an S Class. My priorities are clearly not everyone's, as evidenced by the fact I've test driven fifty million cars and haven't purchased one. The Q50 is the closest I've come to pulling the trigger. I may actually have a mental disorder, so don't let my review dissuade you.
 

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Mr. Mike, you don't have a mental disorder. An S class has this special feel that very few cars have. If yours is reliable (or under warranty) just keep it, the Q50 is not in the same class.
 
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